A couple of weeks ago my 3-year-old Watson, the love of my life, started yelping when he got up from lying down and did not want to go up or down our considerable spiral staircase. Once I carried him, he got the idea and started barking for a ride with me whenever I went up or down. After a day of this, I took him to the vet.
My regular vet examined him and got no pain response anywhere. Legs, neck, everything fine. He observed Watson walking and said that looked fine as well. He took x-rays, which showed nothing. He sent me home with a pain medication, tramadol and an article about SM, since he had showed some signs of pain for a couple of days six months ago as well, but that literally disappeared overnight. He said it might be worth looking into an MRI and seeing a neurologist if the pain persisted, but suggested it could also be just a "soft tissue injury" (Watson is still like a puppy when it comes to playing) that would resolve itself. I immediately bought "steps" for him to get on the bed and got out the ones we used when he was a puppy for the sofa.
A day later Watson was really no better, so my vet added Rimadyl. The next day, Watson was immediately 75% better. Maybe more. But not fully Watson again.
So we saw the neurologist, who happens to be one of those listed in red on Cavalier Health, Dr. Sammut in Los Angeles, who sees tons of SM cases in the area. She DID get a pain response in Watson's lower back, but said this could still be a result of SM... or not. She thought the MRI was probably a good idea for back and neck.
(NOTE: Watson has never shown any other SM symptoms that I've read about here and elsewhere, but he does have seasonal itching every year, like a clock, in the warm months. It always goes away by October. I give him an antihistamine and bathe him in a special oatmeal shampoo when he needs it. He does not scratch when he's walking. Based on all this, the doc does not think it's SM itching, and neither do I.)
A couple days later, Watson was no longer yelping at all, but still seemed to rise from lying down very slowly and deliberately. He had also started using the staircase again, without "asking" me for a ride.
Anyway, I decided to do the MRI. Neurologist called this morning and told me 1) that Watson does have a "small" SM "maformation" and a very small syrinx, 2) that Watson has two slightly bulging discs, one near his neck and one on his lower back, 3) that it's very doubtful the bulging discs are related to the SM (I forget her reason, but it made sense), 4) that she suspects the bulging discs are what's causing him his current pain, not the SM.
She added a diuretic, lasix, to the mix of tramadol and rimadyl. And even though Watson is not yelping in pain anymore and seems to want to do anything (even sometimes going around the steps at the sofa and jumping down on his own!), she ordered no stairs, no fetching, no beds/sofa without steps, and very short walks for 3-4 weeks. Then she wants to see him again. Sigh.
I feel lucky that we caught this early (probably wouldn't have if it weren't for the bulging discs, IF they're what's causing the pain), but I'm wondering if there's anything I should know since WE DID catch it early. Should I see about sending his MRI to someone else?
And what does "very small" mean when it comes to SM? What is the rest of his life likely to look like?
I'm also concerned that without his walks and playing fetch, Watson will get heavy, which will be harder on his discs. He's already a couple of pounds over what he should be.
Thanks so much for having this board!